Reality Skimming

Reality Skimming

Reality Skimming promotes optimistic SF -- stories that inspire us to fight the good fight for another day. Committment to larger projects, the writer's sense of mission, joy of reading, the creative campfire of the SF community and the love of deserving protagonists are celebrated. We believe in heroes and striving to be what we believe in. It is also a news hub for content related to the Okal Rel Saga written by Lynda Williams.


Thoughts on Optimistic SF by B. Pine

B. PineB. Pine is an award-winning fantasy and science fiction author who keeps her days full by writing, gardening, reading and raising her little ones. She is an avid reader of fantasy, science fiction, and vampire novels, particularly stories with backgrounds based on medieval culture from Western Europe and England, where she lived for four years. Her passion for writing was born after taking a college course in creative writing. She graduated from the University of Maryland and Wilmington University with degrees in Business Management and Accounting, respectively. Her debut novel, Familiar Origins, has won two Royal Dragonfly Book Awards, and her Draca Wards series will be continued in 2013. She also has a short story published in The Imperium Saga: Anthology with fellow authors from Silver Leaf Books, LLC. She is currently working on the next installment of her fantasy saga.

My thoughts on Optimistic SF

Our world today is a wondrous place. It is not perfect; there is still too much hunger and suffering. Still, as the saying goes: “There is no time like the present.”

Yet despite all we have accomplished this past century alone, many still worry about our world ending horrifically. The media and speculative TV documentaries have convinced people that we are one disaster away from the end of the human race. Or at the very least, we will experience an apocalypse that will set us back to the Dark Ages.

This does not have to be the case. Technology has evolved at an exponential pace. One hundred years took us from the Wright Brothers to the International Space Station. The planet is now connected in a way no one would have even tried to comprehend when two computers were first hooked up together in UCLA forty-three years ago. Humans are problem solvers. This is why we are not extinct.

We have to believe that we will continue to evolve, not devolve or die out. We have to work on solving problems instead of blaming others for those problems and trying to maintain the status quo.

And how do we solve our problems? By using our imagination.

Stories should fire up the imagination and give readers a sense of hope instead of futility. And that is what I want my stories to do. Once we stop believing we can someday reach the stars, we have doomed ourselves to never doing so.

B. Pine [email protected]

twitter: @B_Pine

Why SF #12: Colleen Anderson

Why SF? Asking kindred spirits in the SF community the story of why they give back and create forward.

ColleenAndersonColleen Anderson's fiction and poetry have appeared in over 100 publications with recent work in Over the Brink, Polu Texni and Heroic Fantasy Quarterly. She is a two time Aurora Award finalist in poetry. As well, she edits poetry and fiction for CZP, and is co-editing Tesseracts 17. New work will be coming out in Bull Spec, Bibliotheca Fantastica, Fantastic Frontiers, Artifacts and Relics, Deep Cuts, and Chilling Tales 2.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.~Nelson Mandela

Interviewed by Tegan Lott

1)Steve Vernon and yourself will be editing Tesseract 17. What do you hope to include in "Speculating Canada From Coast to Coast to Coast"?

Tesseracts is a distinctly Canadian anthology, which means it reflects the diversity of Canadian writing. If any Tesseracts should do this, Tesseracts 17 is the one. From Coast to Coast to Coast should include writers from all regions. While we will look at quality first, we want more than stories from Ontario. We're less likely to take stories of the same old tropes, unless there's a unique twist, so sending your best writing will give you a better chance.

I would love to see stories from the Maritimes, and the territories, from writers of all cultures. So far, I think we've only received one from those areas. Canada is a large country where climate and land often dominate us. This theme comes out in movies and stories. I think we may have some of those, as well as hopefully stories that embrace the uniqueness of Canada, whether that's through Wendigo,Sasquatch and Ogopogo (or some other made up myth) or through traversing the wilderness in new ways, or politics with a twist.

Lest we be flooded with sasquatch stories, I'd like to see true diversity in the poetry and fiction we receive; everything from Steampunk and ancient lands, to space-faring and nano-tech. From horror to humour, I hope we'll have a true rainbow of tales, and excellent writing in all of them.

2) Why, in particular, did you decide to edit Tesseracts 17?

The Tesseracts anthologies are put out by Edge Publishing. Every year Brian Hades chooses editors and the themes for the yearly anthology. Brian approached me at When Words Collide and mentioned there had been complaints of too much focus on Ontario (sorry, guys) so he wanted to make sure that this Tesseracts reflects all of Canada. I'm not sure but I think many of the past editors have also been from Ontario or Quebec.

Brian chose Steve and I, partly because we are on opposite coasts, and we have enough of a track record of publications, editing and judging. Steve and I co-edited the Rannu poetry competition last year, as he was the previous year's winner and I was the runner-up.

For me, personally, I've wanted to edit an anthology for a long time. Rhea Rose and I tried to sell an idea to Brian a while back, so this has been a long-term goal. Of course I love to write, but I want to help shape the face of speculative fiction, and support writers. If I could afford it I'd do my own anthology as well.

3) How are personally involved in the writing and poetic community?

I'm part of SF Canada and our e-list allows for a virtual community. I've never met Steve Vernon in the flesh but we know each other to a degree, and I asked him to do an introduction for my reprint collection Embers Amongst the Fallen. SFC gives me a chance to talk writing with others across Canada. I'm also part of HWA (the Horror Writers Association) but I haven't been able to explore that community as much. And of course I go to a couple of conventions when I can.

I don't do as many readings as I used to in Vancouver but I'm thinking it might be time to re-energize that. Toronto has a very large and vibrant writing community, and they seem to always have readings and launches and other writing related events.

Here in Vancouver, there are only the pricey writers festivals and a few readings that are not always well advertised. Vancouver has been accused of being a no-fun city and a cultural black hole. The arts struggle here and I'm not sure it's because of size.

I'm thinking I might start out with holding writer cocktail parties and then maybe finding a suitable venue for doing some readings. Something is needed to bring writers together and we have very little. Vancouver is so laid back that we'll never have a world-class convention (WFC, WHC, Worldcon) because no one wants to organize.

I also run my blog where I talk about writing among other topics. Like I said above, if I could get the money together I'd do an anthology, partly so I could support the writing community, and help new authors. I also edit for Chizine, as poetry editor (with Carolyn Clink) for the online magazine, and as a slush reader for manuscripts. I always try to give some constructive advice if I reject a story because, as a writer, I know how hard it is to be published and how thankful I was any time I received a clue as to what wasn't working in my story.

Who knows. Writing and editing are my life and I would love to immerse myself even more in the community so the future will evolve with what I'll do.


Why SF #11: Rich Dana

Why SF? Asking kindred spirits in the SF community the story of why they give back and create forward.

Rich Dana"The theme of OBSOLETE #7 is SciFi/DIY which explores the interconnection between science fiction and the rise of DIY culture."

1. Can you explain what you mean by DIY culture and "maker" culture?

DIY is an abbreviation of "Do It Yourself" of course. This term is applied to everything from home repair to micro-publishing. Scifi fans have been intimately aware of DIY both as a theme and a lifestyle for nearly a century. Fanzines, fan fiction, Con culture, cosplay– Scifi fans have always created their own culture. The new craft movement, open source everything, hacking of all flavors- they too are all part of DIY culture.

“Maker” is a term that has come into popularity as of late because of the recent rebirth of DIY culture. O'Reilly Publications Make Magazine, Cory Doctorow's novel Makers, “Maker Faires” and websites like Instructables have inspired creative endeavors bridging the arts and the sciences. Projects are undertaken by individuals, but refined by crowdsourcing– freely sharing plans and data to tested, be peer-to-peer reviewed and honed in the virtual laboratory of “Citizen Scientists”- non-professional researchers who work more for passion than profit.

There is a distinctly “techie” side to the maker movement, and at times it can devolve into a geek-out– a sort of science fair free-for-all of homebrewing, catapult building computer game designers, IT professionals and frustrated cubicle dwellers. Still, at it's most innocuous level, it is a wonderful excuse for multi-generational bonding and educational quality time-sharing projects. At a higher level, “Making” has occasionally brought about new and exciting innovations. The open source software movement is the most notable example– The Linux operating system has been developed primarily by a vast network of independent volunteers. The rise of desk-top CNC (Computer Numerical Control) fabrication and 3D printing are more recent examples of crowd-sourced, Maker driven technologies. Now we are even seeing basement gene-hacking and wetware development.

2. What role do you play with Obsolete! Magazine? How did you get involved.

I started OBSOLETE! in 2010 with graphic designer Blair Gauntt. I've been a writer, artist and zine maker since I was a kid in the 70's and Blair and I did our first zine together in 1981 in college. We had done some writing and artwork together on a horror comic book project for Silver Phoenix a few years ago, and it just seemed like it was time to have our own thing. I wanted to do a free newsprint tabloid, a sort of throwback to the underground papers of the 60's and 70's, and Blair was into it. I picked the name as an homage to the Twilight Zone Episode "The Obsolete Man", in which Burgess Meredith plays a librarian who is judged to be "obsolete" in an Orwellian totalitarian future state. The Chancellor was played by the great Fritz Weaver. The idea of the printed word being obsolete was one I was struggling with- as we all are as writers and readers. It seemed like launching a meta-paper to explore that theme, and the wider theme of obsolescence was worth a go.

We launched it on a shoestring and have been doing it ever since, thanks to great contributors, fans and our "Guerilla Distro" network- people across the US, Canada and UK who volunteer to drop copies at their local independently-owned coffee shops, books stores, record shops, infoshops, libraries, etc...

3. Why does the mission of Obsolete Magazine inspire you?

Well, it allows me to explore a lot of subjects that I'm intrigued by. To explore the connections between art, politics, tech, media... to reexamine and repurpose media. To compare and contrast where we have been, where we are and speculate on where we are headed. We do that by inviting in essayists, fiction writers and poets, photographers, illustrators and cartoonists- all to come together around a different theme for each issue. I like the paper format, and although we make back issues available electronically (I'm not a Luddite, after all), I love the idea that people all over the world can pick it up for free, explore it, share it...I always say if someone uses it to line the catbox, it's been of more value than 90% of the stuff they looked at online today.

4. Tell us more about the magazine and what sort of involvement you are looking for from others.

The theme of OBSOLETE #7 is SciFi/DIY, and will explore the interconnection between science fiction and the rise of DIY culture.Short fiction, essays, poetry, illustrations, comics and photography will all be considered. People may submit completed work or pitch a story idea. Some story ideas might include: The history of zines and/or fan fiction, the influence of scifi on technology, the rise of “Cons”, “Citizen Science”, Geek and “Maker “Culture. The Deadline is November 30th, but if people have good ideas, get in touch with me at [email protected], and we might be able to stretch a little. If you have short stories, poems, cartoons or other work already in the can that loosely fit the theme, I'd be happy to take a look. Also, we are always looking for folks to help with the distribution effort. People can find out more about the magazine, about our new micro-press and more at

Obsolete! MagazineObsolete! Magazine

Call for Submissions- OBSOLETE! #7

OBSOLETE! Magazine is seeking high quality writing and artwork for the upcoming issue. The theme of OBSOLETE #7 is SciFi/DIY, and will explore the interconnection between science fiction and the rise of DIY culture.

Short fiction, essays, poetry, illustrations, comics and photography will all be considered. You may submit completed work or pitch a story idea. Some story ideas might include: The history of zines and/or fan fiction, the influence of scifi on technology, the rise of “Cons”, “Citizen Science”, Geek and “Maker “Culture.

The deadline for submissions is November 30th. OBSOLETE! offers token payment for original content but we also consider previously published material or excerpts from upcoming books. OBSOLETE! is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license.

For more information, please email Rich at [email protected]

The url for Obsolete is:


Why SF #8: Krista Ball

Why SF? Asking kindred spirits in the SF community the story of why they give back and create forward.

Krista Ball

Krista Ball

According to her mother, Krista D. Ball tells lies for a living. That’s not a lie, but Krista does incorporate as much historical information into her fiction as possible, mostly to justify her B.A. in British History.

Krista enjoys all aspects of the writing and publishing world, and has been a magazine intern, co-edited four RPG books, self-published several short stories and a novella series, and has been a slush reader for a small Canadian press. Krista has published two novels (with another one coming late 2012), and has written a non-fiction writer’s guide/comedy skit/historical cookbook called, "What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank."

Whenever she gets annoyed, she blows something up in her fiction. Regular readers of her work have commented that she is annoyed. A lot.

Interviewed by Tegan Lott

How long has you been writing? What inspired you to start?

In terms of the general playing with fiction, I’ve been writing since I was around twelve. Professionally, where I finally decided to give this a go with the aim of becoming published, five years or so. I’d like to say some glorious inspirational event happened to turn me to writing, but the truth is nothing really inspired me to start. I was given a typewriter for my birthday, sat down, and realized that writing stories came easy to me. Then, as time went on, I realized that writing was pretty much all I was good at in terms of profession, so I decided it was perhaps the best career choice for me!

What is it that you write? Science fiction, and more?

It might be easier to ask what I don’t write. Under my real name, Krista D. Ball, I write primarily science fiction and fantasy, along with historical and non-fiction (and, historical non-fiction!). I have other pen names that write Gothic lesbian vampire tales, literary angst stories, and even erotic comedies! But most of my work is under my real name.

How do ethics and lessons play a part in your writing? Do your stories have obvious or hidden educational aspects?

I don’t set out to say anything intelligent in my stories. There are some authors who do that and I’m totally jealous of them. I am often told by readers that I’ve addressed an issue in my writing; I didn’t consciously do it, but since my beliefs fall in a specific area, I ended up exploring the notion.

Ethics is an interesting one, since I wrote an entire book about the ethics of self-defense. The question I ask (and explore) in Road to Hell is, “What role do personal ethics play when dealing with the survival of one’s own people?” So I looked at how gray things could become when putting aside one’s own ethics and morals to pursue the greater good.

I believe it’s easy to say you believe one way or another. It’s easy to say you are against capital punishment, for example. From personal experience, I can say it’s a lot harder to then still be against capital punishment after your friend is murdered. I’ve gone through that decision process and it was a tough thing to still say I believed it was wrong – even as I picture my friend’s face each time I say it.

So that struggle is something I like to explore in fiction. In life, ethics can be very inconvenient, and they can get in the way. I want to ensure my characters are inconvenienced by their ethics and beliefs as much as possible. Sometimes, they stand by them (as in my epic fantasy series, Tranquility’s Blaze). Other times, my characters wander so far from their ethics that they can’t find their way back, as in Road to Hell.

Both are valid approachs to how people explore their own ethics, and I like writing both.


Why SF#6: Airplanes, Martial Arts and…. Okal Rel?

Why SF? Asking kindred spirits in the SF community the story of why they give back and create forward.

John Preet was born where Stephen Leacock was buried, but he moved to Calgary when his dad was transferred. John was an indifferent student, and was encouraged by his father to join the navy. However after he spent a summer working tugboats off Vancouver, he decided to join the army instead, through which he served at several different locations. From here he took up flying, as well as work in civil engineering. He then moved on to an education in teaching, where he then taught instructors and developing curricula. After he received these credentials, he gained more for flying and continued on that path. As he continued on the educational path, he decided to start a company for technical and educational writing. Part way through this started fiction writing, as well as editing as a hobby.

Interviewed by Tegan Lott

How did you discover the Okal Rel Universe?

I actually bought a copy of Throne Price before I knew anything about the series, the setting or the premise. Shortly after that, I met the authour at the first convention I ever attended and managed a rather lengthy discussion of the series. It interested me because of how detailed the universe was and how well the premise integrated into the books.

How have you been involved in the ORU, both at Cons and not?

I have had a fairly large number of contacts with fans, the original authour and authors/editors/artists associated with the main series and the anthologies (and had the honour of being an editor for an anthology). I have also attended panels dealing with some of the blood and gore aspects of the series 🙂

What are some other activites/ programs that you are involved in?

Ummm . . . . well, outside of Okal Rel? Pilot, scuba diver, empty hand and blade martial student, rock climber, rabid motorcylist . . .

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Why SF #5: Ashley Tia

Why SF? Asking kindred spirits in the SF community the story of why they give back and create forward.

My name’s Ashley Tia and I’m a 22 year old who is passionate about the arts. I often get asked the question, “If you had to compare your writing to an author who would it be?” My answer is always the same; the author I compare myself to is me. Every writer has a unique style relevant to only themselves. I am nothing like other authors; some aspects of my writing may have similarities to another, but in the end, each and every one of us is different. I write all sorts of things including short stories, poems, and prose; a lot of that never sees the light of day and most of that helped me in completing my novel. I don't quit writing when I get 'writer's block', I simply write something different until I get inspiration for my original piece or create something new and amazing entirely. I post a lot of my work online in order to get positive or even negative feedback; all of which helps make me better. My main goal is for people to experience the characters and worlds I create and love them as much as I do. I think every author would like to ‘make it big’ or have the next ‘big thing’ and would be lying if they tried to deny this. I admit even I’ve had this dream once or twice, but I’m also realistic. It’s up to each author to promote their novel and work hard to get it out there; a book is only as strong as its biggest fan which is yourself; only then will I have a chance at being truly successful. My philosophy in life is that nothing is ever easy and the things that are, aren’t worth your time.

Interviewed by Tegan Lott

When did you start writing your book? Are you still writing?

That’s a long story, but I’ll try to explain it. I actually started writing my book fourteen years ago when I was only seven; I’ll explain later how I even got the idea. I finished the very first draft in only one weekend and was thrilled with it at the time. I had my dad read it and he was supportive. After a few years I went back to it and decided that I was more mature in my writing style and wanted to rewrite it. I was twelve by this point and it took me about two years to rewrite the whole book, again loving it, and having my father read it. Now that I was a little older he gave me a little feedback and some helpful hints on how to make it better. I took them to heart and set about writing yet another copy. This time it took me quite a few years to finish it; about six. I was eighteen by the time it was complete again and I had went back again and again as I got older and better at writing. This time I thought I was finally done and presented it again to my dad. He loved it, but told me straight out he didn’t think it or my writing was ready. I was heartbroken for a while until I realized that he was trying to be helpful; I decided to give it one more try. I was an adult now and had developed my own style; I felt that it was time to really look at this idea and rework my novel. I rewrote every word, every sentence, really delving into my characters; something I didn’t have any practice in beforehand. I used to think writing a book meant writing words and giving it a title, then I realized what it really meant; this is when I knew my book would be great. It took me four years to finish this draft, the final draft, and when my father read it a couple months ago he told me I finally understood what he was trying to say to me all those years ago. I’m not still writing the book, though a few weeks ago I did change the last paragraph if you want to count that. Overall, I think it turned out how it did because I’ve been writing it for so long; it wouldn’t be the book it is today if I hadn’t developed it for the past fourteen years.

How do you hope people feel from reading your book and from getting to know your characters?

I’ve learned a lot from my characters; it may sound weird, but they’ve helped me in my own life. Whenever I’d feel down or like something was too hard, I’d just think, “Man, Nikias has it way harder than me. Why am I letting this little thing get to me when he has the weight of the universe on his shoulders?” I know this may sound weird considering he’s a fictional character, but it honestly made me feel better knowing my problems weren’t that big in the grand scheme of things. I became very close with my characters; connecting with them on a personal level of which I think any author can relate. They were mine and I knew them like no other, though admittedly they did keep secrets from me over the years, revealing them as time went on. It was an amazing honor being able to write them and bring them to life. My main hope for my entire novel is for people to connect with my characters; I want them to understand them and be able to relate to them. I want readers to feel Nikias’ heartache and sadness, Lucifer’s horror at being betrayed, Isabella’s forbidden love, and William’s confidence and loyalty. My characters have so much to offer, such vibrant personalities, and even though they live in a fantasy world they deal with the same everyday problems we all suffer with. I hope the readers get a new look on an age old topic. I want them to be transported to the world I’ve created and experience a different take on something that is supposedly ‘set in stone’. There’s always a different side to every story and mine is the other side to the different side; I want the readers to think, to be intrigued, to sit there and literally say, “Huh, that’s an interesting look at it.”

What inspired your writing, your plot, in the first place?

Finally, I’ll explain how this whole project even came about. I was eight at the time and was spending the night with my sister at my grandma’s house. The three of us had just gotten done watching some Lifetime movie about a girl being raped and wondering where God had been through the ordeal. My grandma went to bed and I sat up talking with my sister; I asked her the same question the girl had asked in the movie, “If God is so great why would He abandon his children in their time of need?” She looked at me funny and told me that the Bible said he was wonderful and everything happened for a reason and that was that. Maybe it was my being too young to understand or the fact that my parents never shoved religion down my throat, but I didn’t accept that answer. The Bible said so? Really? Well the Bible was written by a human so even if God was real it didn’t mean the Bible was. And, who’s to say God really is an all amazing, caring father? He lets so many bad things happen in this world. So either he’s a bad guy and we’re all being duped, or he’s just as flawed as us and can’t stop it all. Either way, it didn’t look too great for Him in my eyes. And why is Lucifer considered to be this horrible monster locked in a cage that will consume our soul for committing even the smallest of sins? I didn’t believe any creature could be so horrible that they’d be what us humans considered the Devil and that led me to a different point. Why would God throw his own family out of Heaven? What could Lucifer possibly have done that was so bad that God couldn’t forgive him considering he is meant to forgive all? My sister grew sick of listening to me talk and went to bed. I stayed up the whole night with a million questions running through my head. The next day, I begged my grandma for paper and a pencil, went into the guest room, sat down, and began writing. I felt like I just had to get this out no matter what it took; like the end of the world would come if I didn’t write it down.

So I wrote my take on religion, God, Lucifer, His fall, and the war between Heaven and Hell. Maybe Lucifer wasn’t actually evil, maybe his opinions just differed from The Almighty’s. Maybe Lucifer and The Almighty weren’t actually perfect beings, but sinned, had flaws, and experienced lust and anger and jealousy just like humans did. I mean, we were created by Him, right; in his image? Wouldn’t it make sense that he was like us? I figured, Lucifer and Him both wanted to rule, both had differing views, that neither were evil; Lucifer was a little more relaxed, God a little stricter, controlling, and that’s what caused the war to begin. A meaningless, brotherly quarrel blown out of proportion that led to an eternal war. I wrote and wrote, all weekend, and by the end, I had a finished book; though it wasn’t that great back then. I thought it was wonderful and to this day, the concept has never wavered. I’ve added more characters, more plot devices, changed the grammar, made the different time periods more consistent (having an answering machine in the 1800’s was an eight-year-old's mistake), changed names here and there, and overall polished the novel, but that concept has never once been altered. It’s stood firm, stood the test of time, lasted through multiple copies, and a dozen revisions, and remains the same as when I was eight years old lying in bed with my sister at my grandmothers all those years ago.

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